Budget input ends

Public process into Vernon budget ends, tax hike set at 3.95 per cent

Vernon residents will have no more say into how their money is spent in 2013.

Council voted Tuesday not to hold any more public input sessions for the proposed budget, which now includes a 3.95 per cent tax increase.

“There were three opportunities for the public to provide input and we got more members of the public attending than we normally do,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

Cunningham isn’t convinced another public session would achieve anything before council adopts the 2013 financial plan.

“Last year, we had an input night where staff put together a lot of information and hardly anyone showed up,” she said.

Lone opposition to ending the public process came from Coun. Bob Spiers.

“Traditionally we have another meeting after we give three readings (which occurred Tuesday) so people can tell us if we got it right or wrong,” he said.

“I always like listening to the public when we are spending their money.”

The budget originally called for a 4.7 per cent increase in taxes but that was lowered to 3.9 per cent Tuesday after council trimmed $139,000.

“It’s always welcome,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky of lowering the impact on taxpayers.

The impact on an average home is an additional  $45 in taxes.

Much of the $139,000 is coming from reserves and is going towards upgrades to the RCMP detachment and bolstering revenue for the community development operating budget.

“It’s well thought out and consistent with our plan to meet infrastructure needs,” said Sawatzky. “Reserves were built up to deal with these projects.”

Of the overall tax increase, 1.9 per cent is designated for Vernon’s future infrastructure needs.